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Disposal of farm medical waste

Proper disposal makes sure you don't hurt yourself or the environment

Radio interview source: Larry Hawkins, Senior Veterinarian, Bayer HealthCare

Listen here to the radio story (mp3) or read below

Animals occasionally need vaccines, ointments, and other medications to keep them healthy. Many livestock owners will administer these themselves, and that leads to medical waste around the farm that needs to be properly disposed of so nobody gets hurt.

Larry Hawkins is a veterinarian with Bayer Health Care. He says the biggest hazard is the scalpel blades and syringe needles. To avoid injuring yourself or others, they should carefully be discarded into what's called a sharps container.

"Sharps containers often have tools on the top of them to cut a needle off, or a different tool to detach a needle from the syringe," Hawkins says. "And the point is, if you use these sharps containers, you don't need to recap the needle. Most injuries that happen to the person giving the injections occur when that person is trying to put the cap back on the needle and they miss and stick themselves."

Empty or partially-empty drug containers should be handled properly to reduce the risk of environmental contamination. Some items can be flushed in the toilet, others have more stringent requirements. "There are regulations concerning the disposal of sharps and the containers of chemicals or pharmaceuticals, so read the label and follow the directions for a specific product," says Hawkins. "Often pesticide containers can't go to a sanitary landfill without the landfill's knowledge that they're coming."
 
Some communities hold collection events where you can drop off unwanted pharmaceuticals or pesticides for disposal. Medical waste such as bandages and gloves can be put into a leak proof bag and then tossed in with the rest of your trash.


Use this detailed guide from Michigan State University to create best practices on your property for medical waste disposal.

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